Thursday, April 4th, 2013 at 7:33 am
Episode 36 of my podcast, "Consider This!", came out this morning. Here’s the (slightly edited) script for one of the segments regarding the call for "marriage equality".
When the Supreme Court took up two cases regarding same-sex marriage recently, Facebook lit up with red equal signs of people proclaiming their support for what they call “marriage equality”. And that’s how I’ve heard the debate framed by supporters for years, as an issue of equality. One group gets to do something that another group doesn’t. Where’s the sense of fairness, of everyone being equal under the law?
Well, to understand the underlying problem here, let’s take two other areas where one could demand equality. Let’s look at voting and driving. Are you for voting equality and driving equality? Should some voting or driving laws be different for different people, or not even available at all to some?
Let’s take a group of people I’ll call blind people. Now, should they have both voting and driving equality? I’m going to hazard a guess that you said yes to voting but no to driving. I don’t need to be a mind-reader to get that one right. But, but, equality! What about equality? Shouldn’t we really be taking to the streets and demanding the Supreme Court rule on driving equality for the blind?
No, of course we shouldn’t. But why equality for one thing and not another? Steven Smith, a Professor of Law at the University of San Diego, wrote an article using this example of why we treat the two situations differently.
That is because an ability to see is not a relevant qualification for voting, but it is a relevant qualification for driving. We know this, though, not by applying the idea of “equality,” but rather by thinking about the nature of voting and of driving. Probably there is no disagreement about these particular conclusions. But if you did happen to encounter a good-faith disagreement, you would not be saying anything helpful if you thumped the table and declared that “blind people should be treated equally.” You would only be begging the question.
You can’t drive if you’re blind, or under a certain age, or haven’t taken a driving test. Heck, you can’t vote if you’re a felon, or under a certain age, or mentally incompetent. So even with voting, there are inequalities. And therefore, just demanding marriage equality, without considering the nature of marriage, is useless.
And so what, then, is that nature of marriage? That’s the next logical question, and something I will be taking up in a subsequent episode. Until then, I have another link in the show notes to a rather lengthy paper by the Heritage Foundation on what marriage is, why it matters, and the consequences of redefining it. I’ll be pulling points from it for when I tackle this subject later on. You may want to take a look at it and perhaps write or call with your thoughts to be included in the episode.
But this foundation of the issue of equality needs to be laid first. Suffice to say, for now, that just spouting “Equality” with your fashionable, red equal sign doesn’t really mean much. It’s not an argument. It’s not a reason. It’s just a slogan.
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